Apr 17, 2024  
Graduate Record 2015-2016 
Graduate Record 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Civil Engineering

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Graduate Programs

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers several areas of study for those interested in pursuing an advanced degree in civil engineering. These degrees can lead to employment opportunities in government, industry, or academia. Our graduate program offers the following degrees:

  • Master of Engineering (ME) in Civil Engineering **
  • Master of Science (MS) in Civil Engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Civil Engineering

** Students may complete the M.E. either on-grounds, or through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP).

An important component of graduate education in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is active involvement in the department’s research program. The research program is organized in the following two focus areas:

Environmental and Water Resources: Our research in environmental and water resources engineering is focused largely on the developing environmentally sustainable technologies as it relates to our water, energy, and transportation infrastructure. This work covers a broad range of topics including protecting and improving the health of the rivers that act as water sources, optimizing the supply and transport of water to a community, improving the chemistry of point of use water treatment, understanding nanoparticle transport in groundwater, modeling contaminant transport in surface and subsurface waters, understanding multiphase transport in porous media, and creating algal biofuels from wastewater. Professors in this area utilize computer modeling, laboratory research, and field sites that vary from rivers in Charlottesville to remote African communities. The Water Quality Lab and the Virginia Environmentally Sustainable Technologies Lab are led by researchers in this area.

Infrastructure Systems Engineering: Our research in infrastructure engineering focuses on improving the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure in a sustainable manner. The department has considerable expertise in advanced information technology to monitor and control infrastructure. Much of the work in this area is conducted in partnership with the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, through the department’s Center for Transportation Studies. Complementary research in Infrastructure Engineering includes investigation of the physics and mechanics of solids to provide the basis for understanding, predicting and improving the behavior of civil engineering systems.

M.E. and M.S. Degrees

Students pursuing M.E. and M.S. degrees will be assigned a faculty advisor upon entering the program. The advisor will work with the student to define a program of studies, and (if applicable) conduct research for an M.S. thesis. The advisor will work with the student to address M.E. and M.S. degree requirements established by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering participates in the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) by presenting graduate-level courses in a distributed learning environment.  CGEP students achieve a Master of Engineering degree.  CGEP students participate in live class sessions alongside their student peers sitting in the classroom, accessing the interactive sessions via their computer and internet connection.  Class sessions are also recorded for later viewing/reviewing. For more information see www.cgep.virginia.edu and www.cgep.virginia.edu/ce.html

Ph.D. Degree

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a variety of areas of study for those interested in pursuing an advanced degree. These degrees can lead to more advanced employment options in government, consulting, construction or industry, and introduce new options including research and teaching. General information about our graduate programs and courses may be found in the graduate record.

CEE Graduate Degree Programs:

  • Master of Engineering (ME) in Civil Engineering
  • Master of Science (MS) in Civil Engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Civil Engineering

CEE Department Focus Areas:

  • Environmental and Water Resources Engineering
  • Infrastructure Systems Engineering

Distance Learning – M.E. Degree

The department participates in the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP), a distance learning program designed to make master’s degrees in engineering available to qualified engineers. Details on the overall program may be found on the  cgep.virginia.edu.

In addition, full details on the department’s program can be found on the department page:


Graduate Admissions

Applicants must submit letters of recommendation and college transcripts and take the Graduate Record Examination. Further information on applying and an online application form is available on the SEAS graduate admissions page:


or send inquiries to the CEE Graduate Program Coordinator, civil@virginia.edu, 434.924.7464.

Graduate Program Requirements

Seminar Participation Expectation

As a member of the scholarly community, all graduate students are expected to attend and participate in the department’s seminar series.

M.E. and M.S. Degrees

See SEAS requirements http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/preview_entity.php?catoid=26&ent_oid=1719&returnto=662#gene_requ

Ph.D. Degree

When a student enters the PhD program, an advisory committee is formed, chaired by the student’s advisor, to formulate a coursework and research plan suited to the student’s needs, interests, and goals. The advisory committee determines final requirements for the student. The requirements described below are minimum requirements for the department.

Minimum CEE Ph.D. Requirements:

Plan of Study

A doctoral Plan of Study, listing the courses taken as part of the Ph.D. program and tailored to the interests and needs of the individual student, is developed in consultation with the student’s doctoral advisory committee. The plan must satisfy all SEAS requirements. The plan of study should ensure both depth in the specific research area and breadth in civil and environmental engineering and related sciences.

The plan of study should be submitted promptly after appointment of the doctoral advisory committee.

Qualifying Exam

The student’s doctoral advisory committee will develop and administer a qualifying examination designed to test: (a) the student’s integrative knowledge in their focus area within civil and environmental engineering, and (b) the student’s research abilities. The examination will consist of a written and oral component.

The student’s advisor will determine when the examination is to be completed, within a 2-year window upon entry into the graduate program.

Dissertation Proposal

Doctoral students are required to prepare a written dissertation proposal. The purpose of the proposal is as follows:

  1. To determine if the student’s knowledge of the area chosen for research and the pertinent literature is adequate
  2. To determine whether the proposed work, if completed, would provide the basis for an acceptable dissertation
  3. To advise the student on general approaches and specific techniques that may be helpful in the proposed research

The written proposal cannot exceed 15 pages. The proposal will be presented orally and discussed publicly. The doctoral advisory committee will serve as the dissertation proposal exam committee.

This phase of the doctoral program should be completed within a maximum time period of 12 months following completion of Qualifying Exam.

Teaching Experience

To contribute to the educational and professional development, each doctoral student should serve as a graduate teaching assistant for a minimum of two semesters.

Publication Expectation

A doctoral student is expected to serve as the lead author on one or more published or accepted peer-reviewed journal papers prior to scheduling his or her final defense


Based on the recommendation of the student’s advisor, a student should prepare a document that presents her or his research findings as public evidence of scholarly accomplishment in fulfillment of the requirements for the doctorate. The student’s doctoral advisory committee will guide the content and form of the dissertation. Students have the option to prepare the dissertation as a single monograph or as an integrated compendium of at least three papers or manuscripts.

Regardless of the form of the dissertation, the document must represent a substantial and cohesive body of work and contribution to the student’s field. The dissertation must include an abstract as well as an introduction, comprehensive literature review, and conclusion chapters that provide context for the work as well as future directions. The student should adhere to copyright requirements and documentation requirements associated with submitting any previously published work in their dissertation.

Following submission of the dissertation document, an oral defense of the work will be held that is open to all members of the university community and the general public. The oral defense engages the advisory committee and the student in a critical and analytical discussion of the research, as well as a review of the contribution of the research topic to advancing knowledge in the discipline. The presentation of the dissertation defense in an open forum is intended to foster a broader awareness of the state of graduate research, and promote a wider scholarly dialogue.  For these reasons, graduate students, faculty, and staff and expected to participate regularly in dissertation defenses.

Travel Grant Awards

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering travel grant award is intended to support doctoral students in presenting their work at, and actively participating at major research conferences. The grant will cover registration fees, travel, meals, and lodging up to a limit of $1,500. Grant applications will be considered on a quarterly basis by the faculty.

To apply for a grant, the following information should be provided to the department chair. Students are encouraged to apply for the grant as soon as possible following acceptance of his/her paper or abstract (as required by the conference):

  • Conference Name, Location, and Dates
  • Copy of Paper or Abstract Accepted for Presentation
  • Planned Conference Activities
  • Estimated Budget

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